Last week, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) – the watchdog that oversees local police forces – announced that the Metropolitan Police is to be placed under ‘special measures’, due to its failings in a number of areas.
This comes in response to a litany of high-profile scandals emerging from the force over the past few years: from the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer; to the horrific actions of two policemen at the crime scene of the murder of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry; to the grossly offensive messages shared between officers at Charing Cross police station.
The latest scandal was the case of ‘Child Q’, with revelations that police officers had subjected a black schoolgirl to a traumatising stripsearch, after falsely accusing her of possessing cannabis. This sparked an outcry, particularly amongst young people.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg. In all likelihood, many similar cases are yet to see the light of day, thanks to a deeply ingrained culture of cover-ups, corruption, and arms of the capitalist state closing ranks to protect their own.
Matt Parr, head of HMIC, remarked that these scandals are “likely to have a chilling effect on public trust and confidence in the Met”. And he’s not wrong. A recent survey shows that fewer than half of Londoners now believe that the police are doing a good job.
This public pressure was enough to force the resignation of previous Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick earlier this year. But a change of face at the top does nothing to solve endemic institutional problems.
All of these cases, stretching back not just years, but decades, demonstrate how the Met – and the police in general – are rife with misogyny, racism, and corruption.
The whole system is rotten. And the lid has been lifted for everyone to see.
It is clear that putting the Met under special measures will do nothing to limit the rampant bigotry and abuse of power in the police.
A closer look at these so-called ‘special measures’ is enough to show how toothless they are in reality.
Aside from woolly pledges to roll out racial bias training, the most that will be required of the Met will be to report more regularly to HMIC, and to put forward a vague ‘improvement plan’ at some indefinite point in the future.
How any of this is supposed to address the deep-rooted, systemic problems in policing is anyone’s guess.
In a cynical attempt to appear to be on the side of ordinary people, hoping to relieve some pressure, Tory home secretary Priti Patel has come out in support of the HMIC’s decision.
But this is coming from a minister who has permanently widened stop-and-search powers, and who has vowed to overhaul the racist Prevent scheme for not being hard enough.
At the same time, the Tories are passing bill after bill to widen the powers of the state.
Last year, for example, the ‘spy cops’ bill was passed in parliament, giving a green light to the continued police infiltration of trade unions and left-wing groups.
The infamous Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court bill has also severely restricted the basic democratic right of protest, and has beefed up sentencing powers that can be used against protestors.
All of this demonstrates just how impotent these ‘special measures’ will be.
Law and disorder
The ruling class’ main concern is not about eradicating racism and misogyny. Rather, they are worried that this deluge of scandals is undermining the public’s trust in the police, which is ostensibly based on the principle of ‘policing by consent’.
The capitalists and their political representatives can sense that major social unrest is bubbling under the surface, threatening to explode at any moment.
Pitched class battles are on the order of the day. And the ruling class needs a strong state to defend their ailing system. But the cracks are already beginning to show.
Now, with the police increasingly discredited, the establishment is in panic-mode, and is desperately trying to restore confidence in this scandal-ridden institution.
It is therefore plain to see that placing the Met under special measures is merely an attempt to make it seem like something is being done, whilst in reality maintaining the broken status quo.
Workers and youth can have no trust in the HMIC to reform the police. In the final analysis, members of the establishment will never go too far in exposing the wrongdoings of their own class.
After all, the rot in the establishment stretches all the way to the top. Members of each and every pillar of the capitalist state – the police, the judiciary, the media, senior politicians and civil servants – are tied together in a web of personal and professional connections.
The truth is that the ruling class cannot address racism, sexism, and corruption in the police.
The presence of reactionary ideas and bigoted individuals in the police is not accidental, but is a reflection of its role and purpose: as a tool to oppress the majority in society, and to protect the power, property, and privileges of the ruling class.
The working class can therefore have no faith in the tweaks and ‘reforms’ offered by the establishment. The institution of the police – just like the capitalist system it exists to protect – cannot be patched up. Instead, we must fight to throw out this entire stinking cesspit.